The post-2005 management team were always going to be bad for this park and this is another example of that. They are POOR theme park managers; there's no way of getting around this.
Years ago I used to regularly post long intricate posts on here about how this park should be run.
I'm not even going to bother today. It's clear that the people in charge here are either corporate "yes-men" who've moved from elsewhere within the division, or have come into the theme park industry with no other experience.
The key to running a successful theme park is to remember that you're not selling a product but an experience. That takes creativity, and it cannot be run in the way other large businesses can be run. It's a pretty unique industry actually.
The mistake of the modern management here, and of Merlin, is that they treat these parks too much like a normal business, and it was always clear this was going to happen right from around 2004. To be fair to them, they improved the traditional business side of this enterprise over the next few years, and many on here thought that was brilliant. It mainly involved the refocusing on families, on targeting their brand (which was poorly revamped), and making the enterprise generally more efficient. Again, to be fair, certain aspects of this needed to be done to make the park viable, but they went over the top, and it seems like it's the only thing they know how to do - straight out of marketing or business school or whatever.
The tragic publicity stunts, in-your-face branding and general cheap corporate style in everything from food menus to the renaming of the water park, are emblematic of this.
The magical experience has been forgotten. Even the relative successful theme of Mutiny Bay, whilst a timid return to good theming, was ultra generic, was void of imagination and there was no attempt to create awe, or even a remotely captivating story that is free with the right team.
Secret Weapon 6 still hasn't been built yet in my view, 13 just isn't worthy of the title, and you could see that just from the plans when they were submitted. Again there was an attempt to bring in a slightly more creative theme compared to Rita etc. but it is implemented weakly, is totally unoriginal (it's a poor version of Hex) and contrasts awfully with the racing ride built only a fraction earlier.
This fanta thing just takes the biscuit though. Oblivion is a classic in the theme park world.
It built an experience, a story and its own atmosphere, that didn't rely on just the ride itself. Did they extremely well with a limited theming budget in 1998 (the landscaping and tech taking most of it) but it worked well because it had been designed. And designed properly, which used subtle techniques such as the aluminium surrounding the entrance arch, and the set concrete logos. The impressive contrast between JET BLACK paint, sharp orange paint, and smooth cream concrete was a key one. The area felt more tired for its age than other areas of the park because this paint had faded. The experience was roughly intact though. And I guess a significant bit remains (a legacy from 1998), however, a HUGE part has been taken away with all these CHEAP signs that are not executed well physically, nor the content designed well in terms of the emotions they evoke. A cartoon is the worst possible thing you could have brought to a ride such as this.
The FANTA deal is not a problem at all, it's the way it has been applied that is totally unprofessional.
Whoever signed off this one is a person who is not competent in their job.
And that's not a hyperbolous statement to make at all when you look at the evidence.